Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art showcases the work of three contemporary fiber and mixed-media artists

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Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art showcases the work of three contemporary fiber and mixed-media artists
Jennifer Reifsneider, Catch, 2021.

GREAT FALLS, MT.- Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art presents Beyond Intention, an exhibition that showcases the work of three contemporary fiber and mixed-media artists: Maggy Rozycki Hiltner, Ashley V. Blalock and Jennifer Reifsneider. The exhibition is comprised of work that features vintage archetypal characters sewn onto idyllic or dystopian scenes, an installation of brightly colored looming crocheted environments, and beautifully complex grid like patterns that tempt chance through order. Nicole Maria Evans, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, explained that via the presentation of the artists’ work, Beyond Intention, aims to address the concept of intention as it relates to the practice of contemporary fiber art making in women’s lives, and the multivalent qualities of the materials in the face of their utilitarian origins.

Works shown in four of the principal galleries of the museum, utilize established craft techniques like crochet, needlepoint, quilting, knot tying, and pattern making, but re-imagine their purpose and use by transforming those traditions into contemporary artwork that also moves beyond the practicality of product. The very act of making is an example of the complexity of intention, because often the repetitious or intense focus provides a sense of control, relief or even serves as catharsis. Thus, the intention of the work made becomes layered with complex meaning that is tactile, emotional, conceptual, and fluid. These traditional methods and materials like thread, yarn, and cloth become a conduit for discussion as it pertains to identity, social roles, and community constructs.

Three distinct bodies of work are presented separately in the galleries. Each artist uses personal topics of inquiry to further the discussion of intention:

Maggy Rozycki Hiltner presents, Cast of Characters. Hiltner searches antique shops, thrift stores and yard sales for embroidered linens, collecting the brightly colored flowers, foliage, and animals that appear in her work. What she cannot find she hand-stitches and mixes in with the collected embroidery. She uses the familiarity of the stitch along with seemingly lighthearted and cheerful designs to convey more serious subject matter. She often uses humor and Dick and Jane-style characters to tell her stories, and very rarely is everything quite what it seems.

Ashley V. Blalock creates two installation environments with Keeping Up Appearances and The Yellow Wallpaper. She uses craft-based process to create objects and site-responsive installations inspired be everyday artifacts from the domestic sphere. These larger-than-life vibrant crocheted doilies tied to gallery walls overtake the viewer. They confront compulsion to control or influence a perceived outward appearance in the domestic life and hint at the unease that exists below the surface of the woman’s perceived position in the domestic environment.

Jennifer Reifsneider’s, Towards a More Infinite Field, explores the gap between knowledge and experience. Making art helps her understand how a sense of identity emerges from a space of uncertainty that is then quickly filled in with words, expectations, and memories. Her recent work takes the form of diagrammatic sculptures. She maps out her personal latitudes, perimeters, rotations, and orbits and measures them through a labor-intensive process, such as knitting and crochet. She is interested in how the mathematical process embedded in our biology shapes our tacit understanding of the world. The modest functions of Victorian crochet and flourishes have a unique capacity to model fractal growth and non-Euclidean hyperbolic space—the space of outer space. The convergence of the domestic and the mathematical inspire her work.

This exhibition is Curated by Nicole Maria Evans, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art (The Square).

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